Ghost Hunt Live Action Movie: Did It Get Axed?

A movie adapting Ghost Hunt, otherwise known as the Evil Spirits series, was announced in late 2013. The Evil Spirits series is a popular girls’ horror mystery novel series by Ono Fuyumi, which was adapted into a manga and anime. Unfortunately, more than two years have passed since the announcement of the Ghost Hunt live action movie. And yet, there is still no sign or news of any further development. Could the movie be stuck in development hell?

Ghost Hunt Live Action Movie
Taniyama Mai and Shibuya Kazuya a.k.a. Naru

To put things into perspective I wrote a recap of all that has happened (or has not happened) until this point. I previously wrote about it on a personal blog, but I decided to turn it into a proper article on this blog for archival purposes.

Ghost Hunt Live Action Movie Announcement

Ghost Hunt Live Action movie
Mai and Naru (Akuryou ga Honto ni ippai! cover)

November 5, 2013. An exclusive interview with Yamaguchi Yoshitaka (director of Samurai Cat and Arcana) by Horror Society hinted at a live action movie adaptation produced by Twins Japan with Akiko Maya Egami a.k.a. Maya Fukuzawa in the lead role. The movie is “based on a manga”, from a novel written by a woman before 2000 and “frightening and romantic at the same time”.

On the same day two articles, respectively published by Screen Daily and Bloody Disgusting, confirmed the production of a Ghost Hunt live action movie directed by Yamaguchi Yoshitaka and “set to go into production next month” as announced by Twins Japan and Kadokawa Shoten. The screenplay was to be written by Shimoda Atsuyuki (Pulse, Cure and Séance) and Oikawa Shoutarou (Arcana). Shinichiro Inoue would serve as the executive producer with Adrian Chaw as the co-executive producer. In addition to Maya Fukuzawa in the role of Taniyama Mai, two other actors were confirmed to have roles. Namely, Yamamoto Mizuki as Hara Masako, and Kawamura Yousuke as Takigawa Houshou.

Three weeks later, on November 26, Bloody Disgusting reported that Miura Haruma was in talks to join the cast to play the male lead Shibuya Kazuya. The movie was “due to be completed in spring 2014” and “set for a summer 2014 release in Japan“.

The above news seems legit. Save for the fact that there have been no reports about the Ghost Hunt live action movie from the Japanese media at all.

Conflicting reports

The lack of Japanese media reports was strange enough that someone passed the Anime News Network article to the official Ghost Hunt twitter. The twitter account is managed by Media Factory, the publisher of the Ghost Hunt rewritten series.

“Good evening. I found news of a Ghost Hunt live action adaptation in a foreign article. I was wondering if this is real?”

“Huh! This is the first time we’ve heard about it!  (R)”

From the above conversation we could assume that the publisher of the rewritten novels and/or Ono Fuyumi were not informed about the movie adaptation. Either that, or they feigned ignorance about the news. This is strange, because Media Factory is part of  the Kadokawa Corporation to which Kadokawa Shoten belongs to as well.

Also read: Ono Fuyumi Long Interview Part 1: The Ghost Hunt Series Reprint

On January 21, 2014 Maya Fukuzawa excitedly tweeted about the Ghost Hunt live action movie adaptation on her (now deleted) twitter:

Maya Fukuzawa's tweets

Two days later Bloody Disgusting confirmed what we already knew: “The production added the French 24-year-old model Theo Gauchet and Death Tube‘s Sanae Tsukamoto, […], to the cast, sources tell Bloody Disgusting exclusively.”

Soon after HORROR SHOX, a Japanese horror flick blogger, questioned the announcements due to the lack of news in the Japanese media. He mailed Bloody Disgusting’s  Co-founder Brad Miska about it. Miska apparently heard about the news directly from the producer, but could not give the producer’s name for further inquiries.

Into thin air

As a side note, IMDb once listed that Oguri Shun would play Lin Koujo and that the movie would release on December 31, 2014. But this information turned out to be nothing more than a rumor.

Eventually all signs of production life faded out of existence. Both Maya Fukuzawa and Théo Gauchet went missing in action on Twitter. Fukuzawa’s last tweet concerning the Ghost Hunt live action movie seemed to be: “@AstridBFdotcom It was nice to see you with Théo! You both are amazing! #GH” on February 6. Her last known tweet occurred on March 17 2014.

At the end of 2014 HORROR SHOX contacted Bloody Disgusting’s Miska once again, but Miska didn’t know anything either about the situation.

Kadokawa's 50th anniversary lineup for 2016/2017.
Kadokawa’s 50th anniversary lineup for 2016/2017.

I took this image from a (now deleted) blog post by someone who attended a Kadokawa meeting on February 24, 2016. At the business meeting Kadokawa announced its anniversary lineup for the next two years.  This year will be the 40th year since the first Kadokawa movie “The Inugami Clan” was released. Kadokawa announced more than 30 titles to celebrate its anniversary. Among those were HaruChika and Hyouka. Sadly, it did not include Ghost Hunt. Though I have to say that it is unknown whether this is the full lineup for Kadokawa in 2016 and 2017.

Lastly, the final nail in the coffin: Fukuzawa deleted her twitter account at the end of 2015 or early 2016.

Only Questions Remain

Ghost Hunt Live Action Movie
Ghost Hunt manga volume 12: The other big mystery.

So the question is: What happened to that Ghost Hunt live action movie?

All announcements and news reports came from non-Japanese websites. On the other hand, there was a total silence from the Japanese media. The response of the official Ghost Hunt twitter was even more mind-boggling. Did they really not know? All of this is very strange. This hints at either an internal conflict or misunderstanding.

In the meanwhile, the sequel manga adaptation illustrated by Inada Shiho of Akumu no Sumu Ie – Ghost Hunt will complete in the last quarter of 2016. This story is the last one in the entire series. Ghost Hunt fans around the world will soon have nothing to look forward to. A full official translation of the Ghost Hunt manga series seems unlikely. Shut down, Del Rey never officially released the 12th volume in English, leaving the series’ greatest plot twist unrevealed to many who followed the series. In 2013 Kodansha declared that they would not rescue any more lost Del Rey titles. Therefore an official translation of the manga sequel is even more improbable. What’s left is perhaps a season two of the Ghost Hunt anime. But unless there is any intent to rejuvenate the franchise, it seems rather unlikely as well.

Kadokawa’s strategy

Anime, manga and (live action) movies are often used to promote source material. Kadokawa favors the mixed media approach when it comes to promoting the source material. I will take HaruChika and Hyouka as examples: Firstly, the fifth book of the HaruChika series was published in September 2015. It was subsequently adapted into a manga, anime and a movie. Secondly, a new book of the Kotenbu series will probably have released by the time the Hyouka movie comes out. Both of these series had a long interval in between the releases. A mixed media approach appears to be Kadokawa’s strategy to series that need rejuvenation. The same could apply to Ghost Hunt.

New source material is the key. It brings both old and new fans (back) into the franchise. A second season or a movie is far more likely if Ono Fuyumi writes a new story. Therefore I assume they put the movie on-hold or even canceled it, because the timing wasn’t quite right. I wonder if there such plans existed, but for some reason Ono ended up writing a standalone horror novel published by Kadokawa in 2014. Secondly, instead of a Ghost Hunt, Zang-e (The Inerasable), another one of her other standalone horror novels, received an live action adaptation in 2016.

Still, all of this is just speculation. It also doesn’t explain the strange manner in which the movie production was announced. Going by Kadokawa’s lineup, it seems reasonable to not expect a movie until at least 2017.

The best thing to do is to wait for more news. I believe it’s more likely to happen after the completion of the Akumu no Sumu Ie – Ghost Hunt manga. Let’s cross our fingers.

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